Draft Hate Crimes & Hate Speech:
- Helen Suzman Foundation
- Right 2 Know
- Uniting Presbyterian Church of South Africa
- Cause for Justice
- SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference
- South African Institute of Race Relations
- Association for Progressive Communications
- The FW De Klerk Foundation
- For SA
- Southern Africa Litigation Centre
- Coalition of South African Comedians
- Legal Resources Centre
Comments and inputs can be submitted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enquiries can be directed to: Ms Danaline Franzman, Chief Director: Social Justice and Participatory Democracy, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Tel: +27 (0) 12 315 1500/1487.
The following passages are relevant to Internet service providers and social media platforms.
Racism and Prejudice in Traditional and Social Media:
141. Racism continues to play out in the traditional media in South Africa, which is itself under the pressure of the increase of social media outlets. Social media has, in some cases, become an outlet for untrammelled racism. In addition, racial conflicts erupt in wars of words among media practitioners themselves. The media and other means of public communication, such as the Internet and social media, play a crucial role in enabling free expression and the realization of equality. But while freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief are mutually dependent and reinforcing, freedom of expression must not impinge on the right to dignity.
142. Conversely, the unprecedented, rapid development of new communication and information technologies, such as the Internet and social media, has enabled wider dissemination of racist and xenophobic content that has the potential to incite racial hatred and violence.
143. In 2014, the South African Human Rights Commission confirmed that it had received more than 500 reports of racism – of which a large part were on social media.35 In February 2015 the SAHRC said that hate speech cases on social media increased to 22% of matters investigated, compared to 3% in the same period the previous year.
144. The Durban Declaration and other international human rights instruments, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provide a comprehensive framework for possible actions in combating the phenomenon of racial, ethnic and xenophobic hatred. The Durban Declaration encouraged States, civil society and individuals to use the opportunities provided by the Internet to counter the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred and to promote equality, non-discrimination and respect for diversity.
145. South Africa has also enacted the Protection from Harassment Act, 2011 (Act No. 17 of 2011) thereby enabling all South Africans to approach the courts for protection from harassment or sexual harassment per electronic communication – including harassment via SMS or e-mail.
146. In response to the increasing vulnerability of victims to cybercrime, South Africa has implemented a number of strategic and tactical interventions including the approval of a National Cyber Security Policy Framework (NCPF) in 2012. The issues of racism and racial hatred on the worldwide web and social media platforms are further addressed through legislation to combat cybercrime. The country is in the process of finalising legislation on cybercrime and related matters. This is in accordance with the African Union Draft Convention on the establishment of a credible legal framework for cyber security in Africa. It requires States who ratified the Convention to adopt legislation to criminalise the dissemination of racist and xenophobic material. The legislation includes the prohibition and dissemination of racist and xenophobic material through a computer or electronic communications network as well as the incitement of violence against a person or groups of persons through the same.
Joint Programmes and Measures
191. The NAP while guaranteeing freedom of expression, in accordance with international law will provide a framework for both government and civil society to develop programmes and measures which are designed to:
· To prevent and eradicate advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence by the media;
· To ensure that information and communications technologies assist in the promotion of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding and multiculturalism, and contribute to the fight against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
· To promote end-user empowerment and education;
· To encourage Internet service providers and social media platforms to engage in policy discourses and in consultations on the issues of combating racism and incitement to racial hatred and violence on the Internet;
· To develop intelligent software in the areas of monitoring and filtering; and improvements in coregulation and self-regulation mechanisms
· The promotion of local content and initiatives to contribute to greater understanding and respect for diversity and reduce misperceptions feeding racist and xenophobic sentiment
· The creation of policies and strategies to ensure that access is widely available and affordable for all, on the basis of the principles of non-discrimination of any kind, including on the grounds of race
· To encourage Internet service providers and social media platforms to issue clear policies on combating racial and ethnic incitement and hatred, and to include them in their terms of service
· To encourage Internet service providers, social media platforms and online moderators to undertake training and education initiatives to address racism online
· To create technology that supports vulnerable users
· To support civil society and marginalized communities to build strong movements to counter racism and intolerance online
· To encourage the examination of the correlation between manifestations of racism on the Internet and social media and the number of hate crimes and cyber bullying.